I'm expecting a late night tonight, but we may not know most of the results until tomorrow at the earliest. (Maybe I can be in bed at a reasonable hour after all.) Actually, I've read that due to probable runoffs in places like Louisiana and Georgia, and possible recounts elsewhere, we may not know all of the results for -- literally -- months. (But all the gurus, such as Sam Wang at Princeton, are forecasting a Republican takeover of the Senate, albeit narrow. The margin of victory is the only question remaining.)
Having said all that, I think one of the most intelligent things I've read about the election was in an opinion piece in the Times this morning. From "Your Very Predictable Vote" (my emphasis):
Most people aren’t ideologically pure, and most don’t derive their opinions from abstract ideologies and principles. People are more strongly influenced by the effects of policies on themselves, their families and their wider social networks. Their views, in short, are often based on self-interest.
To which I would add a couple of corollaries:
1. People vote for the candidate with whom they most closely identify personally. (Why else would George W. Bush have had any support as late as 2008?)
And, most importantly (I think),
2. If people (and their friends and neighbors) are doing well financially, i. e., they're getting raises and/or bonuses and their houses and 401ks are increasing in value, then they'll think the incumbent is doing a fine job and vote for his reelection. (See: Clinton, Bill; and Reagan, Ronald.) If not, the guy's obviously a bum. (See: Bush, George H. W.; and Carter, Jimmy.) That's why, I think, President Obama is so unpopular right now: median wealth and incomes are still below pre-recession levels. Forget everything else you've heard; that's the reason.
So I'm not expecting any miracles tonight or, for that matter, in the foreseeable future. The Republicans are going to take back the Senate, add to their majority in the House and split the competitive races for governor. Zzzz. Washington will still be in gridlock, everyone will still blame the president for everything -- from beheadings in the Middle East to viruses in west Africa -- and the
I can't wait.